Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th May 2017 16:18 UTC

Friday saw the largest global ransomware attack in internet history, and the world did not handle it well. We're only beginning to calculate the damage inflicted by the WannaCry program - in both dollars and lives lost from hospital downtime - but at the same time, we're also calculating blame.

There's a long list of parties responsible, including the criminals, the NSA, and the victims themselves - but the most controversial has been Microsoft itself. The attack exploited a Windows networking protocol to spread within networks, and while Microsoft released a patch nearly two months ago, it’s become painfully clear that patch didn’t reach all users. Microsoft was following the best practices for security and still left hundreds of thousands of computers vulnerable, with dire consequences. Was it good enough?

If you're still running Windows XP today and you do not pay for Microsoft's extended support, the blame for this whole thing rests solely on your shoulders - whether that be an individual still running a Windows XP production machine at home, the IT manager of a company cutting costs, or the Conservative British government purposefully underfunding the NHS with the end goal of having it collapse in on itself because they think the American healthcare model is something to aspire to.

You can pay Microsoft for support, upgrade to a secure version of Windows, or switch to a supported Linux distribution. If any one of those mean you have to fix, upgrade, or rewrite your internal software - well, deal with it, that's an investment you have to make that is part of running your business in a responsible, long-term manner. Let this attack be a lesson.

Nobody bats an eye at the idea of taking maintenance costs into account when you plan on buying a car. Tyres, oil, cleaning, scheduled check-ups, malfunctions - they're all accepted yearly expenses we all take into consideration when we visit the car dealer for either a new or a used car.

Computers are no different - they're not perfect magic boxes that never need any maintenance. Like cars, they must be cared for, maintained, upgraded, and fixed. Sometimes, such expenses are low - an oil change, new windscreen wiper rubbers. Sometimes, they are pretty expensive, such as a full tyre change and wheel alignment. And yes, after a number of years, it will be time to replace that car with a different one because the yearly maintenance costs are too high.

Computers are no different.

So no, Microsoft is not to blame for this attack. They patched this security issue two months ago, and had you been running Windows 7 (later versions were not affected) with automatic updates (as you damn well should) you would've been completely safe. Everyone else still on Windows XP without paying for extended support, or even worse, people who turn automatic updates off who was affected by this attack?

I shed no tears for you. It's your own fault.

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RE: A fresh start is needed
by Alfman on Tue 16th May 2017 16:39 UTC in reply to "A fresh start is needed"
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Writing bug free, compatible and performant software is both expensive and a slow process. The consumer market certainly doesn't appear to want software made with Ada and the most stringent engineering processes. Operating Systems, libraries and services are still coded in C, so go figure.

The fact is there are millions upon millions of LOC hiding all sort of bugs and 0-days waiting to be exploited, in all major OSes. That can't possibly be solved anytime soon, and won't in the future as long as our infrastructure is still developed the way it is. The only thing to be done is patch and pray. But every new LOC rushed and written in C comes with the possibility of new bugs. There's still hope Ada/Rust will catch on and newer systems to be developed with better languages, slowly replacing rotten bits.

We know this, but most politicians, executives and the public at large don't know it and/or don't care. Unfortunately a large upfront investment to replace legacy platforms and code isn't politically workable even for the greater good in the long term. It's not just tech either, politics have generally been shifting towards shorter term agendas. An executive or politician is more likely to score points if they can bring costs down even if it prolongs our security problems indefinitely.

From an engineering perspective, our approaches to security are indefensible. I can't get over how inexcusably inept and stupid visa and mastercard's security for payments are. But from a business perspective the incentives are quite different, like how shifting the liability to merchants via PCI compliance programs can actually bring in more profits than fixing the flaws using robust crypto.

BTW, It's been years and I keep having to double login to post a comment in OSNews. Time to fix the bug you guys!

I reported that years ago. The login on the top right doesn't have this bug if you use it instead.

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